The city of Los Angeles denied the Westwood Neighborhood Council’s request to hold its elections every four years instead of every two in a letter Monday.
The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which oversees Los Angeles’ neighborhood councils, said the WWNC’s proposed term limits change would limit UCLA students’ ability to run for council seats.
“It is the department’s position that the change from two years to four years would have a chilling effect on the (WWNC’s) ability to engage UCLA students,” said department spokesperson Stephen Box in the letter.
The council voted eight to seven to extend its two-year terms on council to four years at its November meeting. Vice President Sandy Brown proposed the change to reduce election costs and make the council more consistent. Dissenting council members feared it would discourage students from running for council seats.
President Lisa Chapman, who voted against the change, said she was unsurprised by the department’s decision. She added she warned council members who supported the decision that the department would overturn it.
“I agree it would have disenfranchised students,” Chapman said. “I didn’t think (the department) would reach any other conclusion.”
The department also said it would work with the council on its other requests to simplify its ballot and bylaws.